Damoiselles and danger
March 7, 2015 7:57 PM   Subscribe

Maybe you know Tom Jones' theme from Thunderball. Funny thing: before they decided on that track, there was "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" sung by Shirley Bassey. And also sung by Dionne Warwick. And somewhere along the line, Johnny Cash had a turn at writing a Thunderball theme. Welcome to the wonderful world of James Bond themes that never were.

-before Shirley Bassey's iconic version of "Goldfinger" was recorded, the song's co-writer Anthony Newley cut this jazzy take
-you must know Nancy Sinatra's classic "You Only Live Twice," which beat out Lorraine Chandler's different track of the same name
-instead of Lulu, we nearly had Alice Cooper's "The Man with the Golden Gun"
-Sheena Easton's title track to For Your Eyes Only got the nod after Debbie Harry refused to re-record Blondie's theme for the film as a solo act
-Phyllis Hyman' "Never Say Never Again" was rejected and remained unreleased until 13 years after her death; Lani Hall's track was chosen instead
-"This Must Be the Place I've Waited Years to Leave" by Pet Shop Boys, written for The Living Daylights was replaced by a collaboration between pop group a-ha and the film's composer John Barry, though the band preferred their own mix to the one Barry made for the soundtrack
-"The Goldeneye" by Ace of Base (written for Goldeneye was passed over for Bono and trhe Edge's composition recorded by Tina Turner, though Ace of Base later recycled the track as "The Juvenile"
-both Pulp and St. Etienne wrote title tracks for Tomorrow Never Dies before Sheryl Crow's track was used instead
-The World Is Not Enough had two unused themes, one by Bristol rock band Straw and "Only Myself to Blame" sung by cult hero Scott Walker
-Bond soundtrack alum Shirley Bassey was brought back to the fold for "No Good about Goodbye," a rejected theme for Quantum of Solace before they ended up using whatever this thing by Alicia Keys and Jack White is
posted by DirtyOldTown (21 comments total) 65 users marked this as a favorite
Don't forget Adam Buxton's proposed theme for Quantum of Solace...
posted by howfar at 8:07 PM on March 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Awesome finds.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:09 PM on March 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh my god. They had an alternate version of The Man With the Golden Gun, and they still went with the Lulu song? Wow. Just wow.
posted by Naberius at 9:34 PM on March 7, 2015

Aw, I have a soft spot for the Lulu version; the way she belts out "POWerFUL weaPON".

"This Must Be the Place I've Waited Years to Leave" by Pet Shop Boys, written for The Living Daylights

I did not know that! Presumably it would have had different lyrics as a Bond theme than the ode to lonely public-school queerness that it became on Behavior. (At least back then for 1987 macho Bond. Skyfall Bond is slightly more sexually ambiguous.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:27 PM on March 7, 2015

This post is lots of fun. Thanks, DirtyOldTown.
posted by cwest at 10:33 PM on March 7, 2015

Who will he bang? We shall SEEEEEEEEEE...

I just can't believe they had a choice and they picked that song.

But there is some great stuff here. I really like the Bassey song for Quantum of Solace, the Phyllis Hyman track for Never Say Never Again. Kind of like the alternate You Only Live Twice, but not as much as the Nancy Sinatra one they ended up using.

But Johnny Cash? No. Just no. Horrible idea.
posted by Naberius at 10:45 PM on March 7, 2015

There was a kernel of something there, with Cash. A little more haggard voice, no backup singers, and a lyric that was substantially less western themed, and it coulda been something.
posted by wotsac at 10:52 PM on March 7, 2015

We should really discuss Bond on FanFare....
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 11:05 PM on March 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

and they still went with the Lulu song? Wow. Just wow.

The series has always had an iffy relationship with music, and it's clear they felt constrained on the one side by the retro pop sound, and on the other by going outside the taste boundaries of their mainstream audience. For my money, the iconic Bond theme is one belted by a female singer with range and a bit of husky feeling to it, and the Skyfall theme is certainly back to basics in that regard.

As a fan I enjoy these alternate takes but I almost always think they made the right choice. The only rock-band-style theme that really worked, I think, is "Live and Let Die" -- though I do like that Blondie track. Incidentally I wrote a FYEO theme when I was in junior high school... you'll thank me for not sharing it with everyone.

Presumably it would have had different lyrics

PSB wikia says they were essentially placeholder lyrics in case they were given the job.
posted by dhartung at 12:12 AM on March 8, 2015

Honestly, an excellent find and article: I was aware of one or two of these - Newley's Goldfinger, for instance - but most of these were new to me. I always felt Saint Etienne had been edging around the Barry sound since their inception, but it seems a shame their stab at glory coincided with Tomorrow Never Dies, surely the nadir of the series. I can't say I have any fondness for the post-Barry themes - David Arnold's studied attempts to be John Barry somehow took him ever further away, IMHO - but the uniquely long-form format always gives me hope of another Diamonds are Forever or indeed a Live and Let Die. George Martin's music for the latter was cracking stuff and it always surprised me that his involvement with film generally was so brief.
posted by specialbrew at 4:35 AM on March 8, 2015

My favorite film is "The Lion in Winter" (main theme here), which was scored by John Barry (who was knee-deep in doing James Bond music at the time). Years ago, a friend of mine burned me a disc of John Barry stuff, which included a James Bond-ified version of the film's main theme. I love it, and if I ever become some sort of medieval superhero/spy/detective, that's what I want as my theme song.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 5:30 AM on March 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

-both Pulp and St. Etienne wrote title tracks for Tomorrow Never Dies before Sheryl Crow's track was used instead

The main theme for that movie was going to be k d lang's epic, glorious Tomorrow Never Dies (Surrender), and you can hear that a lot of the incidental music in the soundtrack is based on it. The (probably homophobic) decision to move lang's song to the end credits and replace it with that utterly forgettable Sheryl Crow number seems to have been taken at the last minute.
posted by Pallas Athena at 8:02 AM on March 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

My spouse is a big Bond fan, and he had a lot of fun with this - thanks for posting it!
posted by mogget at 8:13 AM on March 8, 2015

I hate to be disagreeable, specialbrew, but "Die Another Day" is indisputaby the worst film in the franchise.
posted by wintermind at 8:59 AM on March 8, 2015

Tomorrow Never Dies, surely the nadir of the series

Oh come on! Tomorrow Never Dies isn't even in the bottom tier. I'd actually put it second in the Brosnan canon, after Goldeneye, and in the solid middle of the pack of the films overall.

Okay, okay, Bond films that are worse than Tomorrow Never Dies (not in any particular order)

1) The Man With the Golden Gun
2) Die Another Day (from the point where Halle Berry jumps off that castle wall in Cuba. Before that, it's actually really quite good. Then it just goes straight to hell.)
3) The World Is Not Enough
4) Diamonds are Forever (Yes! Even Connery, at his worst granted, worse than TND)
5) Octopussy
6) A View to a Kill (Although NO DHARTUNG, Live and Let Die is not the only rock band theme that works - Duran Duran's song for this is the best thing about an otherwise execrable movie and a high point of the theme songs.)
7) Moonraker

Nadir of the series. Bro, do you even watch Bond movies?
posted by Naberius at 9:42 AM on March 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Do James Bond tribute songs count? I've always adored Rex Garvin's Sock It To 'Em JB and Edwin Starr's Agent Double O Soul.
posted by timeo danaos at 10:24 AM on March 8, 2015

I have strong opinions about Bond movies and Bond music and I am enjoying listening to these a lot.

The Alice Cooper Man with the Golden Gun would never be my go-to karaoke song the way the Lulu version is.
posted by immlass at 10:26 AM on March 8, 2015

I hate to be disagreeable, specialbrew, but "Die Another Day" is indisputaby the worst film in the franchise.

No, you're absolutely spot on - in my addled state earlier, I did indeed confuse the two. Die Another Day is like a crazed suicide pact of awfulness: it's as though Wilson and Broccoli consciously decided to make the Bond brand so toxic nobody in their right mind would ever pick the series up again, thus enabling them to safely hold on to the rights for peanuts.

Bro, do you even watch Bond movies?

Strangely, for me, Diamonds Are Forever has to be the finest of all, simply because it takes the surrealistic, eternal duel of Bond vs. Blofield to a new level, like some kind of weird, Vegas-set fever dream. I like to believe that Bond, wracked with grief over the death of his wife at the end of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, decides to end it all by consuming massive quantities of psychotropics and Diamonds are Forever - like some kind of world-weary, laconic version of the Brainstorm death tape - is the visionary inner record of that experience.

Plus Maibaum's screenplay is genuinely pretty funny.
posted by specialbrew at 2:08 PM on March 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Is there room for a couple of parodies?
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:42 PM on March 8, 2015

Wow, this is awesome, I will be spending the next hour going through it. Apropos: my ranking of all the actual themes.
posted by dfan at 7:01 PM on March 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Makes me shudder how close this world came to having an Ace Of Base Bond Theme. Such is the post-Cold War malaise. This might have actually been the end of history as Fukuyama foretold.
posted by Brian Lux at 2:26 AM on March 9, 2015

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